Service-learning takes place when:
- children apply what they have learned in the classroom to the service of the community, and thus transform reality, and learn things that can not be found in books
- children and youths leave their role as "beneficiaries" to become protagonists when they are no longer regarded as "poor things," "dangerous," "superficial," or "the hope for tomorrow" to be acknowledged as active and creative builders of the present.
- students learn not only to describe social problems but also to think of concrete solutions, to do by doing things that help people with their needs and to be engaged citizens by being engaged.
- Language is learnt by teaching to read and write to others, and literature is promoted through reading sessions in neighbourhoods without libraries. Chemistry is learnt through performing analysis in the school laboratory the quality of the water that neighbours consume. 6th-grade students learn Geography by making three-dimension relief maps for a school of visually impaired students, and 6th-grade blind students make signs in Braille so that the streets of their city are more accessible to everyone. Five-year-old students help plant seedlings from their kindergarten garden in a park, and technical-school workshop students produce wheelchairs or glasses for people with no means or solar panels and hydroelectric turbines to communities without light.
- future teachers leave the safety of model-school classrooms for "the practices", to make contact with the reality of the children who need it most, providing remedial classes, acting as tutors, and discovering together that everyone can learn, also those rejected by the traditional school.
- medical students leave the teaching hospital to knock on the doors of rural areas to diagnose and treat child malnutrition before it is too late. Students of Architecture and Design go from scale models to the construction of a soup kitchen in a community, or the design students create models of toys that can be produced by the community microenterprise. Agronomy students develop networks of urban gardens for the unemployed, and Veterinary Medicine students advise the smallest and most forgotten farmers. University no longer values academic quality for the kilometres of printed paper of publications for the initiated, but for the impact of what has been learned and researched on real-life problems of the supported community, and for the ability of its graduates to apply their knowledge to the service of the development of their country.
- the solidarity work of the youths or the community organization is also a conscious way of learning and applying things that are best learned by participating, such as how to work in a team, how to obtain and manage resources, how to communicate ideas and ideals, how to influence those who have decision-making power, how to give a loud voice to those who generally do not have it.
All these examples are real and come from educational institutions as well as organizations that are in contact with CLAYSS, and which CLAYSS accompanies, supports, advises or trains so that they can continue developing their projects.
An educational methodology that develops significant learning and promotes problem-based learning, to offer specific solutions and optimize the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes. This methodology implies motivating students to explore and get involved in their social context with a solidarity approach.
A philosophy or pedagogy: "Service-learning is a way of thinking about education and learning (a philosophy) with an accompanying teaching tool or strategy (a pedagogy) that asks students to learn and develop through active participation in service activities to meet defined issues in community organizations" (Osman and Petersen, 2013:7). (CLAYSS, 2015)